• Lindsay

Emotional Abuse IS Abuse

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

It's something we all probably said growing up, but when you really think about that sentence, you can see why emotional abuse is so accepted.

Words will never hurt me... well guess what- words DO hurt. Sometimes way more than broken bones.

Emotional abuse IS abuse, and more of us need to start talking about it. Instead of teaching our kids how to deal with the bully, how about teaching our kids not to BE the bully?

There's a case in the news recently involving a young woman named Gabby Petito. She was traveling cross-country in a van with her fiance, and she ended up dead. A few days prior to her death, the police were called for a domestic disturbance involving Gabby and her fiance. Guess who ended up being labeled the aggressor? Gabby. Because narcissists have a way of making people believe that they are the victim, and the actual victim of the abuse is too scared to speak up.

Because we have been trained from a young age that words don't hurt. That emotional abuse isn't abuse.

I was the victim in a domestic disturbance once, and you know what happened? The police ordered us to separate for the night- just like they did with Gabby. Except I had a strong support system and ended up leaving for several weeks til therapy was sought and changes had occurred. All I received as a follow up was a letter from the Department of Social Services, which I quickly tossed in the mail. Because I knew it wasn't enough.

Had those police officers done a little more digging and not automatically assumed Gabby was just having a little mental breakdown, maybe she'd still be here. Had the police insisted she call a friend or family member instead of having her go back to the van- alone- where she had no support and likely felt she had no choice but to go back to her abuser...maybe she'd still be here.

Now, while we don't know definitively what happened yet, we know. We always know. But people just don't want to speak up about it.

I, for one, am tired of being quiet. I'm tired of seeing beautiful souls with their whole lives ahead of them end up dead. I'm tired of my inbox being flooded with victims of abuse who feel like they have no way out and no one to talk to because the Courts make it so freaking difficult to prove emotional abuse. If you can't see it, it didn't happen, and if you want to prove it, you better have a whole lot of evidence. Even then, it's really, really hard.

So people stay. Because they feel they have no other choice. That if they leave they will have no money. Their children will be taken away. No one will believe them. Or their abuser will kill them for speaking up.

It has to stop, and you know where it starts? With our kids. We have to speak up and teach them that emotional abuse IS NOT OKAY. It's not okay to make fun of someone on the playground, because you know what that turns into? Making fun of your significant other and laughing it off like it's one big joke. Which then turns into an adult getting angry that their spouse didn't laugh along with them at the joke (made at their expense) which turns into yelling and threats and control.

Yes, we need to teach our kids how to respond to bullies. But we also need to teach them not to be one.

Emotional abuse is abuse, whether it occur at 5 years old or 50 years old.

And it needs to stop.

If you or someone you know is the victim of emotional abuse, I strongly encourage you to speak up. Tell a trusted friend or family member. Tell a therapist. Reach out to an organization like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, loveisrespect.org, nomore.org, or safehorizon.org. Just. Speak. Up. Silence is only giving the abuser more power.

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